Italian Open defending champion Andy Murray was knocked out in the second round by home favourite Fabio Fognini on Tuesday (16 May).
The world number one, who is struggling for form at the moment, went down 6-2, 6-4 in just 90 minutes to become the top seeded player to fall in his opening match in almost 10 years – Rafael Nadal lost his opening match to Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2008.
Fognini played one of the best matches of his career and blasted 23 forehand winners to dump Murray out of the competition that the Scot won in 2016 without dropping a single set. The 29-year-old became the first Italian to beat a world number one since Filippo Volandri beat Roger Federer in 2007 by the same scoreline in the third round in Rome.
Murray has struggled for form since the start of the year despite picking up one title at the Dubai Tennis Championships and making it to the final in the opening tournament of 2017 in Doha. In the last four tournaments — Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid — however, the Scot has made one semi-final, two third round exits and one second round exit.
The three-time Grand Slam champion conceded that he was completely outplayed by Fognini during the second round clash and revealed that he is still looking for an answer to his recent lack of form. Murray's next outing will be at the French Open, which begins on 28 May.
"He was taking the ball early, hitting the ball close to the lines and dominating most of the points," Murray said, as quoted by ATP's official site. "Normally during matches your opponent might give you a few opportunities with some errors, and obviously you hope to create a few yourself. That certainly wasn't the case today. The only chance I really got was when he was making errors."
"I felt like after Barcelona I would start to play better, and the last two weeks have certainly not been as good as Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. Even the match I lost in Monte-Carlo, I did actually feel like I played some good tennis. The last couple of weeks have definitely been a struggle and a long way from where I'd like to be."
"But the last few weeks, there is no reason for it from my end. I'm just not playing good tennis, and I need to try and work out how to turn that around. I believe I will," the Scot was quoted as saying on ATP's official site.